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Week of 14 May 1999

Vol. II, No. 34

Feature Article

Henry Kissinger to speak at Commencement

Former Secretary of State and Nobel prize-winner Henry Kissinger will deliver the main address during Boston University's 126th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 23. BU President Jon Westling made the announcement May 10 at the annual Senior Brunch in the George Sherman Union's Metcalf Hall.

Henry Kissinger
AP/Wide World Photos

"Dr. Kissinger is among the greatest American statesmen of this century," said Westling. "He advised Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, served in the cabinets of Presidents Nixon and Ford, and chaired President Reagan's bipartisan commission on Central America."

Westling added that Kissinger's "analysis of the current, troubled situation in the Balkans should help bring some clarity out of the confusion."

Born in Germany in 1923, Kissinger has not only lived through some of the most important events of this century, he has played a major role in shaping many of them. His family immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1938 -- just in time to escape the Holocaust. He became an American citizen in 1943 and served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1950, and earned a master of arts degree in 1952 and a doctor of philosophy degree in 1954, both from Harvard.

Kissinger soon established a name for himself as a major force in foreign affairs. He published his first book, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, in 1957. His expertise in international relations and strategic policy led to service as advisor to government agencies in the administrations of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. President Nixon appointed Kissinger as assistant for national security affairs in 1969, and he was sworn in as the 56th secretary of state in 1973.

"Among his major accomplishments," said Westling, "Dr. Kissinger organized the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks with the Soviet Union in 1969, helped establish U.S. diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1972, initialed the cease-fire agreement that led to the withdrawal of American troops from Viet Nam in 1973, and that same year negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Egypt."

For negotiating peace in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel prize for peace.

Kissinger was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Medal of Liberty in 1986. He also served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1984 to 1990. At present he is chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm. His syndicated column appears in leading newspapers at home and abroad.

Westling also announced that the Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Jamaica Plain, will deliver the Baccalaureate address on Commencement day during a 9 a.m. service at Marsh Chapel. The main Commencement ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Nickerson Field.

Both Kissinger and Hammond will receive honorary degrees, which will also be awarded to James Carlin, retiring chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education, Academy Award-winning actress and alumna Geena Davis, and George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.